NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said in an interview today that parents not having the option to consent to school COVID-19 vaccinations, like other routine school vaccinations, is diminishing vaccine uptake. She also accused Premier Jason Kenney of “downplaying” the health impact of COVID-19 for children throughout the pandemic.
“We simply can’t accept the current situation as a fait accompli — we need to find ways to make this easier for families and to increase access for them if they so choose,” said Hoffman.
Kenney has said the government has heard from parents who wish to be with their children when inoculations are administered, and that last fall’s school vaccine clinics for students in junior and senior high schools drew little interest but demanded “a lot of Alberta Health Services resources” to staff. Buick noted only about 4,000 doses were given in total.
In response, Hoffman stated that those clinics "came months after teenagers were already eligible at public health clinics, adding Kenney is approaching the issue backwards," reports Fort McMurray Today.
“I don’t think that he is showing the families that kind of respect and value for them and their children’s lives that we expect from a premier,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman also attacked the government for demoralizing education.
"The UCP actually underspent the education budget by $600 million. Think of what could have been done to promote learning and to increase safety with that money," said MLA Sarah Hoffman.
She also accused the government of having a "lack of respect for teachers and the work that they do."
"We know that it has impacted their well being, 92 percent report exhaustion, 88 per cent report high levels of stress and 51 percent report they're anxious more than half of the days of the week," Hoffman said.
This comes in light of a new report indicating that more than a third of Alberta teachers would prefer to retire, move, or start a new career rather than work in the province's schools by 2026.